A boy from Kandal province accused of raping a 9-year-old girl has been released from jail by court officials, who claimed Sunday he is under 13—a point disputed by NGO and government officials.
Court officials released Hav Channeth after the Khmer New Year holiday, saying he is 12 years old and therefore too young to be punished with jail time, provincial Prosecutor Chheng Phath said. “I would punish him if he was over 13 years old,” the prosecutor said.
The court ordered the boy’s family to negotiate compensation with the girl’s family, but Chheng Phath was unclear about the amount of money involved.
But Kien Svay district Police Chief Maing Pich said Hav Channeth told police he was older than 13 when they arrested him
April 6 on suspicion of raping his neighbor as she bathed at a well April 5 in Stav Kanleng village, Dey Ith commune, Maing Pich said.
“I don’t remember well, but the criminal was between 14 or 15 years when he was questioned by district police,” Maing Pich said Sunday.
“I don’t fully understand the reasons he was released.”
The girl’s father, Ly Sokhom, said the girl’s mother saw Hav Channeth rape the girl. The boy’s parents said he was 15, Ly Sokhom said Sunday. He said he has not received any compensation.
Lim Mony, head of the women’s section at the human rights NGO Adhoc, said the boy’s school records list his age as 13.
“The court prosecutor tried to hide information and refused to comment on the [boy’s] release,” she said, adding that she will appeal the prosecutor’s decision.